Two organizations whose purpose is to collect, promote and share the history of the Moravian Church are now working more closely together to bring Moravian history to life.
The Moravian Archives of the Northern Province, based in Bethlehem, Pa., and the Moravian Historical Society, based 10 miles north in Nazareth, Pa., have entered into a unique affiliation that will share expertise, collections and capabilities.
A shared resource
The affiliation between the Archives and the Historical Society is designed to complement each agency’s strengths. The partnership will allow sharing of collections and research expertise; help create better and more complete exhibitions; and tell a more detailed story of Moravian history.
“While our subject matter and overall aims are similar, Archives and the Historical Society are two distinct agencies,” explains Paul Peucker, director of the Archives. “We both collect, preserve and share the history of the church. However, the Archives’ role is research-focused, while the Historical Society has more of an education and museum focus.”
With funding and resources for church and historical societies growing more difficult to raise, non-profits are seeking out partnerships to be prepared for the future. “Both our organizations have similar audiences and funding sources,” says Paul. “Our boards decided to build this affiliation now while we are both on sound footing.”
The most visible sign of the affiliation between the Archives and Historical Society is the new site director for the Historical Society’s Whitefield House Museum, Megan van Ravenswaay. In addition to her role overseeing the museum in Nazareth, Megan is a member of the Archives staff.
“As a former volunteer with the Historical Society, I know the Moravian story and was familiar with the Moravian audience,” says Megan. “Working at both the Whitefield House and the Archives gives me access to the research archives and keeps the communication open between our staffs.”
Two distinct agencies
The Archives is the official repository for the records of the Moravian Church in America, Northern Province. It collects, preserves and makes available historical records documenting the history of the province beginning in 1740 and includes records of many active congregations in the northern U.S. and Canada. It is an agency of the Moravian Church, Northern Province.
One of the oldest historical societies in Pennsylvania, the Moravian Historical Society was established in 1857 to preserve the history of the Moravian Church. The Moravian Historical Society “presents the story of the Moravian Church and its contributions to American history and culture,” but it’s not part of the church. It was founded to preserve Moravian history, not to promote its theology. In fact, it is the only church-specific historical society in America not part of the church on which it focuses.
“With this affiliation, both organizations remain independent, with their own boards, missions and finances,” says Paul. “In addition, our collections will remain separate, but we plan to share staff expertise.
“We look forward to a closer relationship with the Historical Society and the opportunity to ‘let a little fresh air’ into our collections,” says Paul. “We think this affiliation will help create a more complete picture of Moravian history and tell that history in new and better ways.”
For more on the Moravian Historical Society, visit www.moravianhistoricalsociety.org; for more on the Northern Province Moravian Archives, visit www.moravianchurcharchives.org
From the May 2012 Moravian Magazine